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Friday, May 4, 2012

Emergency Rooms and Drinking

It is no secret that drinking alcohol can lead people to make poor decisions, choices that can dramatically shape the course of one’s life. Alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, and organ damage are some of the inherent dangers associated with alcohol use. However, in many cases, drinking alcohol can lead to personal physical injuries with people landing up in the emergency room. This may not be a big deal for some people, but, for others who have to pay the medical bills out-of-pocket it can be huge.

A new report showed that up to half of the people who get treated at hospital emergency departments are under the influence of alcohol. In many states, insurance companies will not cover accidents related to alcohol, this fact allows hospitals to capitalize on this and discourage problem drinking in the future.

In many cases hospital workers will not test patients for drugs and alcohol in order to ensure that they will receive payment for services rendered.

Nearly 600 emergency department patients who were identified as problem drinkers (defined for men as drinking more than 14 drinks per week or more than four on any single occasion, and for women as more than seven weekly drinks or three on any one occasion) were interviewed.

“In the emergency department on a weekend, all the cases may be drug or alcohol related, and yet we don’t do” screening and intervention, says Gail D’Onofrio, the study’s lead author who is chair of emergency medicine at Yale University School of Medicine. “Our goal is to normalize this in the emergency department.”

The study was published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine

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